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  • Environmental and Climate Technologies 2013 / 12_________________________________________________________________________________________________


    Energetic Refurbishment of Historic Brick Buildings: Problems and Opportunities

    Jurgis Zagorskas1, Gražvydas Mykolas Paliulis2, Marija Burinskienė3, Jūratė Venckauskaitė4, 1-4Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Torben Valdbjørn Rasmussen5, 5Danish Building Research Institute, Aalborg University

    Abstract – Building standards for energy effectiveness are increasing constantly and the market follows these changes by constructing new buildings in accordance with standards and refurbishment of the existing housing stock. Comprehensive trends in European construction market show tremendous increase in building retrofit works. It can be predicted that after the end of this decade, more than half of the construction works in European cities will be taking place in existing buildings, pushing the construction of new buildings to a less important role. Such a growth in building refurbishment works is creating a demand for suitable materials, retrofitting techniques and research. The differences between refurbishment of new-build projects and historical or valuable buildings are insufficiently recognized – mostly the buildings without further cultural preservation requirements are studied. This article covers the theme of refurbishment measures in historical buildings – the specific measures like inside insulation which are allowed due to the valuable façade or other heritage preservation requirements. An overview of other innovative methods for energy saving in existing buildings and their potential is given.

    Keywords – building energy performance, energy efficiency

    measures, historic buildings, refurbishment / retrofit.

    I. INTRODUCTION Buildings are the localized tool of all political, economic,

    social, religious and cultural human activities; they support numerous functional needs, express historic preferences, contemporary choices and future visions of the population. A city’s identity is reflected in the form of major government buildings, embassies, museums and other monumental buildings, and even housing districts. The presence or absence of these buildings, their construction or demolition, their cost and their ownership, their name and their marketing, as well as their accessibility and use - all these factors reflect local and national preferences, generate local identities, and often determine future building decisions. As political, economic, and social contexts change, the built environment keeps track of a location’s history: political collapses, wars, or forced migrations. [1]

    In recent decades, the role of culture and history has often become a driving factor in the process of urban regeneration. The focus on culture and history as factors in regional transformation has been particularly extensive in response not only to competitiveness among cities but also to sustainability requirements. [2] Creative cities are currently working on how to improve the interaction between building regeneration, economic development and social renewal in order to achieve more comprehensive development of the city. [3-5]

    In cities of the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) among other historical tracks the traces of the Hanseatic League clearly denominate. The “German Hanse” greatly influenced the development of BSR towns starting from the XIV century leaving its footprint of characteristic red brick buildings in the cities of most BSR countries. [6] Most remaining historic buildings today have mortar construction and authentic facades and decorative elements which are listed amongst valuable characteristic traits of the buildings and have to be preserved.

    From the other side, historic buildings were built in times when energy performance standards of the buildings and the lifestyles of inhabitants were not as challenging as today. People used natural wood or coal heating systems, they were used to colder temperatures during the winter season and their understanding of comfort was different from modern understanding. This creates the need to retrofit historic buildings to suite modern standards.

    From the great oil crisis in the 1960-ies, the standards for building energy performance were raised constantly and the gap between existing previously built and newly constructed buildings was increasing also (Fig. 1).

    Fig. 1. Increasing gap between energy performance standards and existing housing stock (from presentation in Co2olBricks project forum given by prof. R. Paggue, Dresden University of Technology).

    Today there are around 2 billion households that meet modern comfort standards, set by economically developed countries. By 2050 1-1.5 billion more modern households will emerge in the world. It can become an impulse to greatly reconstruct or even demolish remaining historically valuable buildings or buildings that contribute to local identity. Often demolishment and rebuilding costs less than proper retrofit of the existing building and the achieved energy performance is better with less investment. However modern buildings often lack the unique appearance and identity, they resemble the

    doi: 10.2478/rtuect-2013-0012

  • Environmental and Climate Technologies _________________________________________________________________________________________________2013 / 12


    global culture and international architectural style. Retrofitted buildings also often lose their unique outer appearance because outside insulation is applied and façade materials and details are hidden by the cover of insulation layer and modern finishing. To intercept these trends and to find alternatives, the EU is currently running a few international projects. One of the projects finalizing this year granted under the “Priority1: Fostering Innovations“ of the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007 – 2013 is “Co2olBricks - Climate Change, Cultural Heritage & Energy Efficient Monuments” initiated in order to find ways to reduce energy consumption in historical buildings without destroying their cultural value and identity. The project aims to find common solutions to combine the needs of climate protection with technical, administrative and historically adequate approaches to fulfill the necessary CO2 reduction aims [7].

    A. Overview of Related Research There were many attempts to find the most effective retrofit

    measures like EnergyPlus program tool [8], a multi-objective optimization model to assist stakeholders in the definition of intervention measures aimed at minimizing energy use in the building in a cost effective manner, while satisfying the occupant needs and requirements [9], the scalable methodology based on Bayesian calibration of calibrated normative models which can correctly evaluate energy retrofit options [10], the framework for handling the uncertainties associated with the prediction of energy savings in the retrofit analysis of a housing stock [11], and others [12-18].

    There is a lack of understanding of historical building performance in industry and in policy, and a lack of connection between good research, standards, certification processes, guidance and practice. There is significant uncertainty with regard to the application of models and performance simulation software for this class of buildings. Some methods for assessing traditional buildings are inappropriate and give incorrect results, and some are misapplied and thus give false confidence in some measures. Traditional buildings often perform better in terms of heat loss through the fabric than as stated in standard models and assessment methods. This means that the likely paybacks from some retrofit measures, such as solid wall insulation, may be less than assumed. Traditional buildings require different assessment and practice with regard to the control of moisture in buildings, which is vital for fabric and human health.

    II. DESCRIPTION OF THE PROBLEM The growth in building refurbishment works is creating a

    demand for suitable materials, retrofitting techniques and research. The differences between refurbishment of new-build projects and historical or valuable buildings are insufficiently recognized – mostly the buildings without further cultural preservation requirements are studied.

    Energy and sustainability are a hard challenge in building heritage, both the technical solutions in order to solve impact of energy conservation and aspect of conservation and maintenance of architectural heritage [19]. Energy efficiency

    and architectural heritage of brick buildings are two controversial topics. It is important to address these two issues so that the obtained result can meet today's requirements of energy efficiency and, at the same time, promote the preservation of historical buildings for future generations [20]. Only professionals, who are able to measure and analyze the actual heat consumption and heat transfer data, determine the moisture effects on historical brick buildings and recommend energy efficiency measures, can accomplish this. Currently developed simulation and visualization methods and measurement technologies can assist energy managers at different stages of their activity and have the potential to achieve energy savings on a large scale [10, 20, 21].

    The energy consumption for heating and cooling the inside takes around 45% of the energy consumed in buildings (see Fig. 2). Other great energy losses happen in heating the water, lights and electronics, refrigeration and cooki


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